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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One Year After Chemo

 t's a miserable Tuesday morning and I wake to the sound of a howling wind thrashing the trees.  As the day progresses, the rain sheets in.  It's chucking it down!

Today is a big day - one year since I finished chemotherapy and, I suppose, a good day to take stock.

A rudimentary inventory check indicates that the merchandise has been somewhat manhandled but, though dented, is still saleable - all be it at reduced prices.

Physically, I'll have to admit to a few minor issues.

For instance, I wake every morning with arthritis in my fingers which must be 'cricked' a few times in order to get them moving.

I still shuffle to the shower like a Chinese house maid.

The aching feet have become a part of life though and I have found a good technique to deal with them is simply to focus elsewhere.    You know how it is.  The more you worry about a problem the bigger it gets?

I especially notice it when I run.  Last week I had a gloomy moment when I tried to remember what it felt like to move without any pain whatsoever - and realised I couldn't.

But I also have realised that on these days, it's best to think like the little red train:  "I think I can"  therefore "I know I can".  Sometimes this technique works.  Other times, I feel more like throwing myself under that bloody little red train.

I have also accepted the idiosyncratic symptoms of menopause which manifest from time to time: the difficulty winding down; the broken sleep; occasional headaches.

I am short tempered and impatient... oh, okay, I just threw that in.  (I was born a virago.  I admit it).

Other than that, physically I'd say I'm in fair shape.  My aches and pains have certainly not held me down.

My energy levels, for instance, while fluctuating, are sometimes great.  At these moments, I can see my old self.

I mean, just check out what I've been up to so far this year:
  • I have signed up for hockey (it's something I've always wanted to try).  
  • I walk 10kms most days (or I run).  
  • I play tennis on Tuesdays.  
  • I have signed up for soccer refereeing again.  
  • In September, I've signed up for the 10K Stampede (a difficult obstacle course designed for torture). 
  • In October, I've signed up for the 60km End Cancer Walk (with Lee and Louisa).  
  • Next month, after missing a year thanks to illness, I am once again entering the ComedyFest.   (Frankly, I think this will be much harder than the Stampede.  It is hard enough being funny with breasts.  Without them I am reduced to sad penis jokes). 
  • I have organised a hiking club and once a month, a group of us go hiking in the Great Australian Bush.
  • I have maintained my enthusiasm for my book club which meets once a month.
  • I have recently dusted off my paints.  It's slow going but at least I have started again.
  • I even wrote a poem recently, something I haven't managed to do in over two years.
To add to this, today I sent out an invitation for a small High Tea I am organising in April.  Believe it or not my team has to raise $9000 bux in order to participate in the End Cancer Walk.  That's a huge amount to raise by anyone's standards so I'm hoping that enough people will come along and throw large wodges of cash - maybe some jewels, handbags and a white Pekingnese - in my general direction.

But one of the horrid thing about this cancer is the fact that I have gone up a dress size.  And I now have bags of cellulite on my thighs.  Urggh!!  Death I can deal with.  Cellulite on the other hand...

Come on, you don't see anyone raising funds to help the needy get rid of their cellulite to do you.  And yet, it's bloody depressing.  At 48 I had smooth legs and could get around in my teensy tiny shorts.

At 49 - fuck it - I have to wear very unflattering golf shorts.  Do you ever see Kylie Minogue gyrating around in a pair of knee lengths?  I rest my case.

My vanity has also suffered in other ways.  I have STILL not got used to my hair, so curly that it forms ringlets.  It's so curly I reckon I could have escaped from an episode of 'Roots'.

It's so curly that last week, I spent 3 hours getting it salon-straightened (as an experiment) by my the Follicle Whiz Maria but my splendid 'do' lasted barely 24 hours.

There is also the small matter of those scars on my chest.  I'm afraid my newest addition has turned keloid so it's rather rough to the touch.

But there is probably a much more horrid thing than the blows to my vanity (which was whittled to nothing last year anyway).

I have to be honest and admit that psychologically, I have had my ups and downs.  It has been bad enough for me to go back to the Counsellor at the Cancer Council (Kate).  Who is cool.  And cute.

Yeah, yeah.  It's the old dreary story.  Feeling depressed, down, dark, doomed, despondent, disheartened and debilitated has been disorienting.  

But I have not despaired.

Because as with the issue of my tortured tootsies,  I have learned that D-Moods can be dismantled with determination - and desire.

Today has been a case in point.

Perhaps it's the gloomy weather but, dear reader, I have to come clean and confess that this is the third or fourth version of my intended blog you are reading.

I have been doleful and downhearted today.  This is how I turned it around.

Around noon I went back to a half finished painting that has been sitting in my bedroom and laughing at me for the past week. By 5 pm I had finished it.  (The overcoat is drying still otherwise I would have posted a picture of it for you too 'ooh' and 'aah' over.)

At 5.30 pm I prepared a nutritious meal for my family.

At 6.45 pm, I jumped on my running machine and walked 5 km.

It is now  8.00 pm.  Not only have I turned my bad mood into a good mood.  I have also turned what started out as a bloody miserable blog into one I hope hasn't got you shaping a slipknot out of a bed sheet.

The thing is that, at this stage of this tedious epic, the state of my moods has me obsessing about only one thing (cellulite notwithstanding).  And that is:  How to be Happy.

I don't care about trophies or accolades.  I don't pine for titles or wealth. 

I just want to be happy.  

And in this wanting, one year after chemotherapy, what I have learned is that while we all deserve to be happy, we all need to work at it.

Importantly, we must always assess what makes us happy because those cues - that uplift us, that make us smile, that make us feel whole - can change with the tides.

You see, the days or moments when we can feel good about ourselves, about our lives and about who we are, those times when we can dare to hope for better times or better days, these are few and precious.

And when they are here, we should grasp them with both our hands and be AWARE of why and what makes us feel as we do.

So, one year after chemotherapy - that is the one thing I know for sure.  

Know what makes you happy.  And when you do, work - and work as hard as you can - to make time for those things.  

Would you like to know what makes ME happy?

Then please watch my video:


 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtMjRaeMo8Q
  (And yes, that is Bert Kaempfert).














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